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Rashard Mendenhall raises eyebrows with bin Laden tweets

Super Bowl XLV

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Packers won 31-25. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Several of you have pointed out to us some potentially controversial messages appearing today on the Twitter account of Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Though it’s not a verified account, it’s being followed by other Steelers, including safety Troy Polamalu, center Maurkice Pouncey. Also, Mendenhall’s account attracted attention in March, when he supported Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s comparison of pro football to slavery.

This time around, Mendenhall is offering opinions regarding the death of Osama bin Laden, and questioning whether the planes that hit the World Trade Center caused the collapse of the twin towers.

“We’ll never know what really happened,” Mendenhall said. “I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style.”

Mendenhall also expresses sympathy for bin Laden. “What kind of person celebrates death?” Mendenhall says. “It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side.”

But what would the other side have been? Bin Laden admits to masterminding and funding the plot; he has bragged about it. He’s not entitled to the presumption of innocence after admitting guilt.

We fully believe in free speech. Mendenhall has the right to say whatever he wants. But others also have the right to react to what he says. And given that he plays for a team headquartered near the location of the crash of United 93 and that the Steelers will be playing on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in Baltimore, not all that far from where another plane crashed into the Pentagon, we’ve got a feeling that more than a few folks will be exercising their free speech rights when Mendenhall comes out onto the field.

UPDATE: Actually, it is a verified account. Well, there goes any chance he had of coming up with an excuse. Unless he plans to claim someone hacked into his account.